If you have any prior experience with food storage, then you’ve come across the term “mylar.” If you haven’t then let us introduce you to your food storage best friend.
Mylar bags are considered the gold standard of survival and emergency food storage, helping to easily separate, categorize, and extend the shelf life of your survival food. By using mylar bags, some foods can last 25 years or longer!
But what the heck is “mylar” anyways? Why is it so highly regarded? And how do you properly use it?
In this article, we’ll explore all things mylar and demystify this ubiquitous food storage packaging once and for all.
Explained: What is Mylar Bags?
Mylar was invented back in the 1950s by DuPont and was first used by NASA for their space programs. It’s one of many variations of polyester films called BoPet – or Biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate (you can understand why it’s been shortened to BoPet!)
This polyester film is highly regarded for its super strong & durable composition despite being incredibly thin and lightweight. Mylar can provide excellent barriers against light, aroma, gas, and most importantly, moisture.
Why Use Mylar Bags To Store Food?
The highly insulating property of mylar bags makes them ideal for food storage use. They’re strong, lightweight, and durable enough to conform to food items without breaking.
The key to long-term food storage is the removal of moisture. No other product or material keeps food better protected than mylar.
Mylar bags are highly regarded for having a variety of features. Mylar bags are:
- Strong & durable
- Puncture and tear-resistant
- Gas resistant
- Flexible and conforms to the shape of your food
- Light reflecting
- Easy to use
- It comes in a variety of sizes & thicknesses
Uses For Mylar Bags
Mylar bags are used to store a wide variety of foods. The key thing to remember is that to get the best usage from mylar bags, the food you store needs to be very dry and low fat. Moisture and fat will spoil foods even in a mylar bag, so do your research on foods’ fat and moisture content before storing them away.
Some of the foods that are ideal for mylar bag storage include:
- Dehydrated fruit
- Dried beans
- Powdered milk
Other food items such as rice, nuts, seeds, granola, jerky, and other higher moisture and fat items can still be stored in mylar bags but will have to be rotated through more quickly, generally between 1-5 years.
Mylar bags aren’t just ideal for food storage. You can use them for a variety of other purposes including:
- Protecting old photos or documents
- Long term clothing
- Storing small electronics like CD’s, vinyl, microchips
- Medical and pharmaceutical items
- Camping and hiking gear
- Firearms and weapon storage
- ….and many many others
Which Bags To Use
So you’re convinced of the quality of mylar bags, but now you need to decide which bags to purchase. The most important factors you need to consider are size and thickness.
Mylar Bag Size
Mylar bags come in various sizes, from small 1 pint bags to large 6 gallon bags. The most commonly used bags are 1 gallon and 5 gallon bags. 1 gallon bags are the perfect size to store most smaller portions of food such as dried beans, rice, pasta, spices, and dehydrated fruit.
We recommend that you pick only a few different sizes of bags, one large 5 gallon to line a 5 gallon bucket, and a 1 gallon to store smaller amounts of food.
Why bother storing food in smaller 1 gallon containers? Well, think about an emergency situation. Do you want to open a giant 30 pound bag of food at once? Once the bag is open, food becomes more susceptible to spoilage, damage, and infestation. Rotating your food also becomes easier when you have food stored in smaller, more manageable containers.
On the other hand, storing food in smaller containers is more expensive (you need more bags), and takes more work and space to store food. A combination of both small and large container storage is often the best strategy.
Mylar Bag Thickness
The most popular thickness for mylar bags is 3.4ml and 7.5ml, each with their pros and cons.
A thinner mylar bag is cheaper, conforms more easily to the food’s shape, and can stretch to hold more food inside. Of course this flexibility comes at a cost. Thinner bags are, well, thinner! That means they’re more susceptible to breaking, tearing, or damage from rodents and bugs.
A thicker mylar bag may cost a bit more and be less flexible, but it’s much better at keeping light and moisture out, and harder for sharp foods or rodents to penetrate.
While mylar bags have a fair amount of inbuilt light and humidity protection, bags alone won’t keep your food safe in the long term. Oxygen is present in between food particles and inside the food itself. To rid your food of as much oxygen as possible, it’s essential to pair mylar bags with good quality oxygen absorbers.
You need to make sure to add enough oxygen absorbers to your food packages. It can be tricky to figure out exactly what you need, but the general rule is you want to err on the side of too many absorbers than too few.
Adding a few more absorbers than required may cost you a bit more money, but it’s a small price to pay compared to your food spoil quicker than expected because you didn’t add enough.
Always make sure to research the foods you are planning to add oxygen absorbers too. Certain foods (like foods with higher fat/moisture content) can actually come with a low risk of botulism if stored with oxygen absorbers. Other foods such as salt and sugar will go rock-hard if stored with an oxygen absorber.
Using Mylar Bags For 5 Gallon Buckets
If you’re storing food for the long-term, it’s highly recommended to store your mylar bags inside a durable 5-gallon bucket. Why? Largely to keep food safe from rodents, whose teeth are sharp enough to chew through even thicker mylar bags.
Make sure the buckets you buy are certified food grade. Food grade buckets won’t contain any harmful chemicals, dyes, or additives that can contaminate your food over time.
Sealing Your Mylar Bags
One of the most important things you need with your mylar bags is making sure you’re sealing them properly. Only through precise and proper sealing will your food last long-term.
Mylar bags are meant to be sealed with a clamshell or heat impact sealer. You can also use a flatiron or hair straightener if you don’t have access to one of these. Once you’ve sealed your mylar bad, test it for oxygen leaks, then wait 24 hours and test it again.
Note – most household vacuum sealers will NOT seal a Mylar bag.
Mylar bags are an essential part of any serious food storage plan. Their cost is a small price to pay for the incredible protection and life-extension they provide your food. In an emergency, you’ll be glad to have your food stored safely and securely in quality mylar bags.